The Social Media Beast
One has the right to choose how they use their social media outlets. One also has an amazing opportunity to share their voice on this huge international stage. Social media is making people sick, literally. While I believe till this day that it was created to connect us, the data shows it is, often times, contributing to the isolationist culture that is being created throughout the "developed" world. It is creating a world as seen through a filter. Instagram, a collection of glorious pictures, has been shown to be the worst of the social media outlets with regard to people's mental health. This isn't shocking to me. It is a seemingly fabricated existence of individuals that creates a feeling in others that they are less than and sometimes even making people combative and defensive. In many ways, social media has worsened our inability to communicate; however, it doesn't have to.
As many people know, I have been doing social media marketing since before it was cool; I think it has been about six years now I've been consulting in this area. From the beginning I realized that social media marketing is just a piece of overall marketing. While many others used it for gimmicks and shameless self promotion, I cued in that telling stories was the most effective way to reach people. In fact if an agency doesn't tell their story and well, someone else will, which often doesn't end well. This is no longer a foreign idea, but at the time it was. What was most impactful was businesses and organizations successfully telling their own story in a relatively personal manner, while also sharing relevant information, services, etc. I did not produce mass content or templates to be shared. I've been asked time and time again to create a toolkit, impossible. Each client had to be carefully studied and I had to understand their voice to be shared. After all, it isn't my story, it is theirs.
Social Media for Good
I have to give my initial public sector and nonprofit clients a big high five for listening to my predictions and theories that at that time sounded like ludicrous ideas. Now we all see training and seminars on using social media for social change. Alright well, at least five years late, but in the end it is great to see. With a millennial driven market, companies have to show a positive social impact in one way or another. Steve Jobs was one of the major players in transforming marketing as we knew it many years ago by preaching the need to create advertising that told a story and people could relate to on a deep level. Cue amazing success of Apple and their advertising continues with the same...hit you at the core messaging.
Honesty is also key in the current environment. We watched the breakdown of major media during the last election which has truly destroyed the trust of the field among a majority of Americans. They failed us all, but there were those agencies who very successfully tried to counter the major media's efforts. Social media which had seemed to be watered down over the past 5-10 years suddenly got its power back.
Why I Choose to Tell My Story...Honestly
In the current pop, glitz and glam culture we often forget that we are all PEOPLE with our own story, lives and missteps. Of course there are different levels of screw ups, but for most it is minor mess-ups from time to time. I, in general kept quite for many years. I had my rant on social media from time to time, but lived in the world that I must always "put my best foot forward." Sure, but sometimes I have two left feet and my best at that moment isn't that great. Social media has trained us to believe that everyone's life is dandy, successful, pretty, etc. Given my expertise I can see through it, but frankly these stories are flawed. Again, everyone can make a choice about how they express themselves on social media. People express themselves through music, art, photo, spoken word, etc. and I choose to express myself in words, raw words.
I know many people disagree with me telling my honest and true story, which I understand. What I don't understand is why there is a perception that me telling my true and honest story is less relateable than pictures of babies and memes about puppies? Is this not a distraction from the real world? Now I hear time and time again that people want to use social media as an escape, but I have always seen it as a platform to share stories. I've also always believed in using it for good, which in my mind isn't always positive glowing statements or motivational quotes. Sometimes i'm happy, sometimes i'm sarcastic (ok almost all the time), and sometimes i'm emotional. I'm human, I cry, I laugh, and I live. I don't post as a cry for help or to alarm people. My life is great with a strong support network, but I feel it's my obligation to start breaking down the stigma around many things including mental health and simply communicating with others.
I always hope that in sharing my story it will encourage others to find ways to express themselves whether it is through social media, blogging, talking to a therapist, or confiding in a close friend. We are tribal by nature, which I mention regularly and unfortunately we have been dramatically separated creating more of a gang or clique mentality. Not everyone will relate to me and i'd never ask for that, but this is my story and i'm sticking to it.